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10 Reasons to See “Hidden Figures” on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (or any day!)

January 15, 2017

Since its founding’s goal has been to celebrate education excellence by putting a spotlight on inspiring educators, students, parents and leaders. We’ve put a special focus on promoting women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and in our series have interviewed over thirty amazing women in STEM fields.

When starting my undergrad degree in computer engineering back in 1985 my incoming class of 80 students had one woman. One. I was stunned at the time. It struck me at the time as unfair and unhealthy that my computer engineering class so poorly underrepresented women. How could the engineering profession solve the problems of the world, when only 50% of the world was represented? The statistics are even more stark when you look at ethnic diversity in STEM fields. As a tall, white male I could easily sit back and be neutral, passive, and complicit through my silence, but like other #HeForShe contributors I believe being neutral isn’t enough.

The extraordinary irony is that women, including women of color, have played a critical role in STEM fields. Yet from much our media and popular culture you’d be led to believe otherwise (as research fielded by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media has shown). That’s why I was so excited to see the first trailer for Hidden Figures last year, and ecstatic after viewing the film with my family. We were cheering and crying, and are hopeful that the success of this #1 film could push Hollywood to put a spotlight on more untold stories.

So with that setup, here are our top 10 reasons to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a trip to see Hidden Figures:

#10 – As Hidden Figures screenwriter (and former NASA employee) Allison Schroeder noted in a recent Hollywood Reporter interview,  “There’s a sense of comradeship [at NASA] that I’ve never seen anywhere else. You walk in, and every single person feels like they’re a part of that launch. We really tried to put that in the film.” In Hidden Figures we see heroes ultimately recognized because of their ability to solve problems, despite extraordinary cultural and structural barriers and biases.


#9 – The original “computers” were people – not machines – as in “human computers“. Hidden Figures author Margot Lee Shetterly speaking at NASA, “This is a really strong example of how women rise to the occasion in a very high pressure scientific endeavor.”

#8 – According to the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media “From 2006 to 2009, not one female character was depicted in G-rated family films in the field of medical science, as a business leader, in law, or politics. In these films, 80.5% of all working characters are male and 19.5% are female, which is a contrast to real world statistics, where women comprise 50% of the workforce.” By seeing Hidden Figures you are voting with your wallet that these stories matter.


Archer, actor and champion of women in media, Geena Davis

#7 – Hidden Figures passes the Bechdel Test (1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it 2. Who talk to each other 3. About something besides a man).

#6 – In honor of women pioneers in coding that you should know more about: Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper and Margaret Hamilton to name a few.


#5 – In honor of NASA aerospace engineer Mary Jackson, who had to fight for her right to attend night school along her journey to becoming a NASA engineer.

#4 – In honor of NASA mathematician and Section Head, West Area Computers Dorothy Vaughan.

#3 – In honor of NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2015.


#2 – Because Hidden Figures is the #1 movie in America, beating out the diversity rich and awesome Rogue One: A Star Wars Story after its first weekend in wide release. Not seeing Hidden Figures will leave you at risk of FOMO when you return to work / school on Tuesday.



#1 – Because it’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day – and this film is about hope and dreams fulfilled.


Want to help students across the country see Hidden Figures? There are multiple GoFundMe campaigns to choose from (click here).

One Comment
  1. Catherine Brown permalink
    January 17, 2017 6:36 am

    Great article! I absolutely had planned on seeing this movie but now I have a list of reasons! I hope my girls see it also, as we have tried to raise them with the same “can do” attitude!

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